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  The Iguanas  
Edit Review The Iguanas  Americana 
Easy comparisons to Los Lobos have long dogged New Orleans' own cross-cultural pot-stirrers, the Iguanas. But the band's return from a four-year recording respite here cuts a subtle, distinctive musical swath all its own, culminating in what's arguably the most rewarding album of their career. While informed on "Machete y Maiz," the evocative "Un Avion," and the haunting slinkiness of "Abandonado" by the same rich conjunto/Tex-Mex/Chicano R&B influences as their East L.A. soulmates, the band's creative axis of vocalists Rod Hodges and Joe Cabral and bassist Rene Coma (powered by drummer Doug Garrison and Derek Huston on sax) has inspired anything but a predictable artistic orbit here. Anchored by the loping, sunny pop daydream "Yesterday" and the title track's gently optimistic radio paean (a collaboration between Hodges and Dave Alvin), the band simmers zydeco, blues, and smart pop hooks into a mix that veers from the sly playfulness of "Sugarcane," "Mexican Candy," and the tragi-comic squalor of "The Liquor Dance" to more traditional party-hearty rhythms of "Flame On" and "Zacatecas." Its production is as subtle and spacious as its evocative songs, a languorous hour of music that evokes the dappled sunlight and fevered grooves of a half-dozen cultures. --Jerry McCulley
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